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   NEW YORK OVERMANTLE, ca 1819-1820, WITH A FABULOUS PAINTING OF AN EAGLE CLUTCHING FRAUND OR WHEAT, PULLED BY ITS ROOTS, UNDER A ROBIN�S EGG BLUE SKY WITH 22 STARS


 

Description:
This exceptional overmantle painting is one of the finest that I have ever encountered, not only because of its dynamic folk qualities, but also because of the patriotic motif itself, which survives with significantly less frequency on overmantles than do still-lifes or landscapes. On the upper register there is a robin�s egg blue sky with 22 six-armed stars. These do not take the form of modern stars, but are rather like the rawls on a spur and are thus akin to those on the personal banner of George Washington, as well as on his family crest.

Underneath is a dramatic spread-winged eagle. Note in particular the unusual nature of the greenery that the bird carries in its right talon, and also appears at the termination of the billowing streamer. These are painted in red instead of green, probably to limit the palette to the d�cor of the room, and may either represent ferns of sprigs of wheat, that have been pulled by their roots. I can not recall having ever seen these particular graphics before, the graceful, free-flowing representation of which lends a whole different look to what might otherwise be a familiar illustration. When combined with the choice of colors and the beautiful craquelure of the painted surface, the overall presentation falls among the best American examples.

Alabama became the 22nd state, on the 14th of December, 1819, and was followed by Maine on the Ides of March, 1820. While the possibility does exist that the star count is merely decorative, it more likely indicates that the work was executed during this short, three month period, thus nailing down a very narrow window of manufacture. The eagle appears in a form that is very much of the federal period, with a long neck and angular features. Found in Upstate New York, the overmantle is constructed of three, mortised, pine panels, the largest of which is more than 25 inches in width. The boards are pit-sawn, which is consistent with the period. They were originally mustard in color, which indicates that the house was not new at the time that the overmantle painting was commissioned, probably from a local sign painter, or maybe from an itinerant artist. It compares well with both an overmantle panel at Old Sturbridge Village and one in the Chittenden-Chapin House in Jericho, Vermont; both illustrated in Nina Fletcher Little, American Decorative Wall Painting 1700-1850 (New York, 1952), pp. 50-51.
Inventory Number:

Dealer  

Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1819-1820
Origin: American
Condition: Excellent. Ask me for a full condition report.
Measurements: 40.5" x 47" x 1.25"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Web-site: http://www.jeffbridgman.com
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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